Best Brown Trout Flies: A Guide To Productive Brown Trout Patterns

Don't fish for Brown Trout without reading this guide. These flies are guaranteed to land you some trophy fish.

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If trout weren’t always a fan favorite amongst fly anglers, Brown Trout can seal the deal. These fish are hearty, strong and beautiful. They’re the perfect species for anglers to target with the fly rod. You won’t ever go wrong fishing water that holds these fish.

Brown Trout were some of the first fish I ever targeted on the fly rod. I didn’t know what type of trout I was going to catch, but I noticed a difference when I hooked into one of these. I also appreciated how every fish looked a bit different. I never get tired of landing these fish because I can never guess the size or their appearance.

Like any fishing excursion, it’s not going to be very fun unless you use the proper bait. Trout are fairly picky. They rely on a proper presentation and pattern that fits into the general area. If you can manage this, you’ll be in for a very entertaining day on the water.

What is a Brown Trout Fly?

Brown Trout patterns need to be able to cover the entire water column. These fish anywhere and everywhere in the water depending on the time of year and time of day.

taking a big brown trout in the fly

Understanding the Hatch

The primary food choice of trout are insects. These fish will eat insects in the midst of all stages of the insect life cycle. It’s important to know the stage that the flies are in before you begin fishing. Knowing the stage will help you make the most accurate presentation to the fish.


The Larva is the beginning stage of the insect. Larva sit along the bottom of the water column and insects are inside a casing as they grow and start to mature. They’ll attach themselves to rocks, logs or a variety of other surfaces on the bottom.


As the flies begin to grow and continue to feed, they start moving around the bottom. They look like small worms and are a favorite of trout. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this stage of the insect life. There are hundreds of nymph patterns to choose from!


The emerging stage of the fly is the shortest stage. This is when flies move towards the surface of the water. It only lasts an hour or so, but if you can time it well, you’ll have a great amount of success. Fish start looking towards the surface and emergers are the main reason.


The adult stage can last anywhere from a day to several weeks. The main role of adult insects is to mate, lay eggs and then they die. Adults will sit on the surface of the water, dry off their wings and then take off. Fish will feast on the dry flies as much as they can!

Basic Types of Brown Trout Flies

Brown Trout flies are fairly standard amongst flies in the fly fishing community. They don’t have any special or unique types or patterns.

a set of fly fishing flies for brown trout

Don’t complicate things when you’re looking to land some of these fish!

Dry Flies

Dry flies are flies that sit on the surface of the water. They’re created to imitate fully grown insects or other types of prey that Brown Trout love to eat. You may need to cover your dry flies with floatant to make sure they stay on the surface.


Emerging patterns represent flies that are in the midst of hatching. They’re moving towards the surface and breaking out of the casing that was holding them at the bottom. Again, this is a short part of the life of an insect, but it is a favorite of the fish.


Nymphs are early stages of an insect. Fish will feast on these all day long and throughout the entire year. They’re one of the major parts of the diet.


Streamers flies are imitators of some of the larger prey that Brown Trout like. Baitfish, crayfish and leeches are just a few of the representations that you’ll find.

The Best Brown Trout Flies For Fly Fishing

Brown Trout flies aren’t necessarily universal, but there are a few patterns that have proven to work no matter where you find yourself in the world.

taking a big brown trout in the fly into a fish net

Best Dry Flies for Brown Trout

Hatches happen multiple times throughout the day. If you’re able to study the patterns, you can time what flies you use perfectly. This is going to make your time on the water extremely successful.

Green Caddis

The Green Caddis is a classic pattern in the world of Brown Trout fishing. These can be found all over the place almost regardless of where you’re fishing. Use one of these anywhere between size 10-14 and you’ll have plenty of success.

If you see trout rising and you aren’t quite sure what they want, tie on a Green Caddis and see if the fish are interested. Odds are, you’ll get a few to fall for it while you’re waiting to determine the hatch. They’re easy to use and sit high on the water column.

Chubby Chernobyl

The Chubby Chernobyl is a wonderful dry pattern that provides anglers with a great shot at some brown trout. These can work as the top of a dry-dropper tandem if you’re fishing a bit heavier dropper pattern.

Throw the Chernobyl up along the bank and in the midst of some slower moving water. These are nice representations of hoppers as well as beetles. They’re fairly easy to use and fish don’t take long to strike. Anglers often are not patient enough when throwing these terrestrial patterns. If you use some patience, you’ll find yourself with quite a few fish.

Griffith’s Gnat

The Griffith’s Gnat pattern isn’t specific to Brown Trout, but it’s well worth your time if you’re fishing anywhere in the United States. Gnats are all over the waters in the midst of the spring, summer and fall. Wait for a hatch in the early morning or late evening and tie one of these on.

You can use one of these flies in size 16-20. They’re an extremely small pattern, but great for the days the fish are spooky. You don’t want to intrude and the gnat pattern is going to allow you the opportunity to stay hidden and still land a nice amount of fish.


Nymph patterns are a must for anyone looking to land some Brown Trout. Nearly 80 percent of a trouts feeding is done under the surface. Nymphs work all times of year, all throughout the day and in several types of water.

Pheasant Tail

If you’re fishing a BWO hatch in the early spring, the Pheasant Tail is a wonderful imitation. It has enough flash to stand out in cloudy water and the perfect size for the fish to find. Fish the Pheasant Tail throughout riffles, seams and some of the shallower pools.

You can find these flies anywhere from size 10-14. Since they’re a bit smaller, it’s important that you use an indicator. An indicator is going to make your life much easier. Fish don’t always strike nymphs aggressively so you need to be able to detect any strike that happens.

Also, this pattern is a great option for a dropper! If you want a multi-fly rig, the Pheasant Tail Nymph is a must!

Hares Ear Nymph

If you’re in some cloudy or fast moving water, the Hares Ear is a wonderful option. Also, if there is quite a bit of bug activity, it will increase productivity. Also, if you need the fly to drop in the water a column, don’t be afraid to add a bead head.

The bead head is going to drop it in the water column and allow for some more versatility.

You’ll find the Hares Ear Nymph anywhere between size 10-16. The 12 or 14 will be the most productive. It has a nice size that isn’t overwhelming for the fish.

Photo of the sanjuan worm

San Juan Worm

The San Juan Worm is a staple in the fly fishing world. Anglers often forget about this pattern. Worms have proven to work for years so make sure you use them often throughout your fishing excursion. Fish a pink San Juan in the midst of some extremely clear water.

Smaller can be better for brown trout. They tend to be fairly skittish so don’t overwhelm them if it’s not necessary. If it’s numbers you’re after, the San Juan is going to offer you quite a bit of access to these fish.


Streamers are some of the most fun flies to throw at Brown Trout. The bigger the fly, the getter chance you have at landing a big fish! While it may not lead to more numbers, you have a great shot at landing a trophy.

Wooly Bugger

The Wooly Bugger is going to work in whatever situation you want. That is a guarantee! Use it in size 8 or 10. An olive or dark brown color will be the most productive. It’s not a bad idea to throw some flash in the tail if you want it to work in clear water.


Crayfish flies are another underutilized pattern. Don’t overcomplicate things! A crayfish will catch fish in almost every body of water. They work their way along the bottom of the river in search of food! Trout love to eat them. Use these in size 6-10 and you’ll find fish.

Clouser Minnow Fly in a Vise different color

Clouser Minnow

The Clouser Minnow is my go-to streamer if I’m not quite sure what the fish want. This will offer me a chance to determine what size and color the fish might want. It’s a harmless pattern that has proven to catch thousands of fish.


Brown Trout are a necessary target for fly anglers. They fight hard, grow large in size and will test your limits. Finding the proper fly isn’t easy, but with a bit of practice and research you’ll find yourself with tons of action.

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My name is Danny Mooers and I’ve been fly fishing for five years. As soon as I went to college, I dove headfirst into my obsession for fly angling. Every spare weekend or long break was dedicated to finding fish. I’ve fished all over North America in search of trout, salmon, steelhead and everything in between. I currently write articles for Guide Recommended and Reel Adventure Fishing. Fly angling is one of the most challenging yet rewarding hobbies any person can have. Don’t be afraid to give it a try.  It’s an addicting activity that tests everything from your fine motor skills to your patience, but it’s well worth your time.

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